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Marvin Minsky - Thinking the Hiroshima bomb was a hoax (16/151) Marvin Minsky - Thinking the Hiroshima bomb was a hoax (16/151)

Marvin Minsky - Thinking the Hiroshima bomb was a hoax (1...

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The scientist, Marvin Minsky (1927-2016) was one of the pioneers of the field of Artificial Intelligence, having founded the MIT AI Lab in 1970. Since the 1950s, his work involved trying to uncover human thinking processes and replicate them in machines. [Listener: Christopher Sykes; date recorded: 2011]

TRANSCRIPT: I don’t think it was an important part then, except that since people were going to Japan and getting killed in this period it was a great relief. And for several days after the news came out I was convinced that this was actually a… a hoax, because Hiroshima was a port city, and so I assumed that in fact somebody had equipped a barge with a few thousand tons of TNT, just as the cliché went, and they’d slipped this barge into the harbor, and then they flew a little airplane over and dropped something and set off this bomb. And so I assumed this was a great trick for fooling the Japanese into thinking we had an atomic bomb.

But Nagasaki wasn’t so accessible, so… I think many people must have wondered, why… why did we drop two bombs? Why wasn’t one enough? My first thought was that it was to convince them that it wasn’t a hoax. A few years later then, I met Oppenheimer for the first time when I was in graduate school at Princeton, and he was very hospitable… and tragic.